Sexually-oriented businesses in Dallas are ordered to close early as police ask for help curbing overnight violence.
Following a lively debate Wednesday, the Dallas City Council voted unanimously to order all strip clubs and other adult businesses to close their doors between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.
The ordinance change was effective immediately. It also requires that adult business employees now be at least 21 years of age instead of 18.
Lawyers representing adult businesses filed a lawsuit to stop the move hours after the vote, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Dallas Police asked for the change to curb overnight violence, but club employees complained it will cost jobs. Employees lobbied outside Dallas City Hall Wednesday morning and then dozens of them signed up to speak to the city council.
The list of speakers indicated Angelica Batrez works at XTC. She said she supports her children by working when they are asleep and coming home before they go to school. She said her babysitter would lose work too if the all-night businesses must close.
“That would destroy a lot of families and homes,” Batrez said.
XTC on North Stemmons Freeway is one of the strip clubs police visited many times over the years for assaults and homicides outside.
“What we're bringing up to council is quite simply a contemporary standard in this industry, in this lawful industry that occurs in other parts of the state,” Dallas Chief of Police Eddie Garcia said.
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Dallas Police said violence spikes after 2 a.m.
A homicide at 5 a.m. on Jan. 5 at Dallas Cabaret South on Walnut Ridge Street in northwest Dallas is an example Garcia cited for incidents that tie up a large number of officers for hours after the crime.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson supported the earlier closing hours.
“This is about public safety, it's not about being puritanical or shaming anyone's career choices,” Johnson said.
The Dallas mayor pushed the vote for Wednesday’s meeting after a city council committee called for a 6-month study of the change.
Council Members Omar Narvaez and Chad West were among the supporters of that study over concerns about employees.
“How do we help them with loss of income, loss of jobs? This process was flawed Mayor, it was too fast,” Narvaez said.
Johnson and other supporters of the change said assistance programs will be available for workers.
“What this discussion has highlighted is our need to focus on workforce development in our city and focus on upskilling our residents,” Johnson said.
Councilman West unsuccessfully tried to add an exception process for businesses that are found to be without crime problems.
“They could be comparable to Whataburger or McDonalds or something else that's open 24 hours,” West said.
Despite the objections of several members, the final vote for changes was unanimous.
“At 2 a.m., the party is over. The party is over. That's what we're saying,” Johnson said.